Why correct pronouns are important

Art+by+Halli+Conom

Art by Halli Conom

Teens have always been stereotyped with the overwhelming urge to fit in, to be included with the rest of their generation. Today’s teens aren’t much different, but fitting in is a little more complicated nowadays than rocking shoulder pads or making your hair as big as possible. People want to be respected. Maybe not in the most elite of standards, but in terms of general human decency.

 Correct pronouns are the first steps to recognizing and respecting people’s identities. It’s whatever terms people feel most comfortable using. A pronoun is a word that refers to either the person talking or someone that is being talked about – and pronouns don’t always signify gender! Some pronouns include but are not limited to: she/he/they/ze/xe (etc.)

Middle and High school kids especially lack confidence, and with all the changes going on in their lives, they deserve to have people respect them. 

“I think using pronouns is important!” Akemi Ozoa (‘22) says. “I think it helps a lot of people feel like their identity is valid… I commonly use mine, and I feel nice knowing I present to people the way I want to be seen!”

Pronoun inclusion nowadays needs to be normalized, especially in schools. As kids develop and self-realize, it’s important for them to have validation, not only from their peers but from friends and families too. Validation is a valuable resource known to psychologists to help teens with self-confidence and positive thinking. “Validating means giving your child or teen the message that ‘Your feelings make sense. You can feel what you feel, and I am welcoming and accepting of your feelings in a non-judgmental way.’ Validating your child conveys deep empathy and helps them feel understood,” (Hartstein Psychology). It allows them to accept themselves even when the world won’t. But they shouldn’t have to fight alone. Another student that wished to remain anonymous writes, “I do think it’s important … because I feel that it should just be a given to respect people for who they say they are. I think a lot of people struggle on the inside when they feel like they aren’t being recognized, safe, or respected.”

“In my personal experience,” One student says, “BHS has done a great job … though I think different individuals probably want different things when it comes to this.”

The Bothell motto

Bothell is all about building, belonging, and becoming. BHS is one of the best schools actively working to ensure everyone’s comfort within its campus, and many would agree it’s made a big impact on students who’ve found confidence in themselves under their leadership. And although BHS is already making a safe space for students, there is always room for improvement. In classrooms, on attendance rosters, during roll call, anytime when meeting a new person, teachers and students should take the time to learn everyone’s pronouns. It should be normalized for people to ask – especially since names and such are used widely throughout school districts. 

“Normalising everyone’s pronouns and/or asking for them so that they feel comfortable really helps create a safer and more inclusive environment,” Sofia Pearce (‘22) writes. “It’s incredibly thoughtful to ask and it helps show people that you care about them and their well-being.”

Using someone’s pronouns is an easy way to show you respect the person you’re speaking to. Even if it’s a new format for you, it’s still important to use the pronouns people are most comfortable with. Whether or not you agree, you should still respect their pronouns. Just like how making up a nickname for someone and using it despite them disliking it is exactly how using the wrong pronouns feel. It’s hurtful and offensive 一 especially when people actively ignore a personal pronoun. It can also be offensive to assume a person’s pronouns, and asking should be standardized, though one should never force someone to state their pronouns. Some people just aren’t comfortable yet and that’s okay! It’s also great to start by saying your own pronouns first!

“I feel like it should be normal already,” Choir director Ms. Taylor Iverson says. “It’s a simple thing to do to make people feel respected and heard. It’s one of my first questions for my students. It seems like most teachers make those pushes and are good at trying and asking.”

To make sure everyone around us is happy and confident, people should get in the habit of asking for and using correct pronouns. When people feel invalidated or misgendered, it can lead to many unpleasant thoughts or feelings. According to Deborah T

emkkin and Claudia Vega at childtrends.org “Transgender and non-binary people already face harsh oppression, and those misgendered often experience higher rates of mental illness.”

Particularly amongst the BHS community, everyone should feel welcome and proud of who they are. It’s important for everybody to be respected and feel comfortable expressing themselves to others. Taking the time to learn and acknowledge people’s pronouns can mean the world to someone, and it’s a simple way to make sure everyone knows they matter. And when teachers are actively